Archive for October 2009

Apologies and a Quick Summary

October 30, 2009

Thanks for all the comments and encouragement. There have also been a few expressions of concern because it’s Friday and I’ve only gotten the ‘live blog’ up through Monday. Folks, it’s turning out to be even more intense than filming and I’m just not getting it done (the blogging). So here is a brief summary. I do want to go back and give more details but don’t want to leave those hanging who are getting nervous:

26 October – Monday – Final Filming
Weather cooperated better than expected. We got the essentials without too many dramas. Team in Bahamas is finished. Thanks a TON to Paul Mockler, Siobhan Antoni, Sarah Hamilton, Veronica Cuccurullo, and Mark Linthicum.

27 October – Tuesday – Travel Back
Mark Linthicum and the camera and housing and footage all arrived back without incident. Mark and I viewed/reviewed the footage. Meanwhile Nathan Pena and I kept working on the color timing, (which had been going on all weekend), and David Bartlett continues with sound. Also working with 3D digital artist Caleb Campbell on the 3d shot of Navy sonar in action. Struggling with that a bit. It may not be ready for the Nov 2 deadline for this cut. We can live without it if we have to.

28 October – Wednesday – Editing and Insert/computer screen shooting
We’re editing in the new material. Got the biggest headache of all completely solved — so that’s a big relief. The big scene at the end is in good shape now. We are also shooting inserts of documents and computer screens. There are a ton of these and it’s been a lot of prep to get the screens ready. The good news is, we can shoot, export, edit and see how it looks, then shoot again all in the same space and time due to the digital aspects. This is great in terms of being able to fine tune. We’re up to 16 hour days now.

29 October – Thursday – Editing and insert/computer screen shooting
Finally got all the shots done and everything edited and a final “locked picture” for the AFM cut. Done. 2am. Now we’ve got a mad scramble to finish the things that you finish after you lock the picture – sound, music, opening and end credits. But at least it’s locked and I don’t have think about making those decisions anymore and it looks great. This last bit of work has REALLY helped.

30 October – Friday — Finishing
Another long day. I’m chasing dolphin sounds — trying to get more good ones for the final mix. Have some interns helping on that. Listening to final music, making tweaks with the composer. Mark is working on effects shots and continuing to polish the visuals now that the picture is locked. David is working on sound effects, background sounds, and the navy sonar sound. I’ve got to deal with the opening titles and make sure there are no contractual booboos even though this is not the final cut, and make it all play nicely. And the end scroll, which is also subject to change but needs to be there. Then tonight we are going to view and try to spot any big problem areas that we may have missed.

Two days to go.


25 Sunday — Shoot Day 2

October 25, 2009

6:15AM PST: Text Mark Linthicum to Michael Sellers:

“Very very windy. 30 MPH. Can’t do anything in open water — no dolphins, no jetskis. Cannot take any boats out past the jetties. Will do what we can in the pens today. Tomorrow is supposed to be bad too.”

This is very bad news. We have lots of stuff that needs to get done in the open water including a couple of critical shots from the end of the movie that are half the reason we are back in the Bahamas.
Here’s a picture of the wind sent by Siobhan:
Picture 128

9:15 AM PST
They are shooting in the pens and I’m trying to figure out, with Siobhan’s help via Skype, how we can creatively get open water stuff done without going out into the open water. I’m using Google Earth to make some maps and diagrams of things I think we might be able to do. The first thought is that there is an area adjacent to Unexso where, if we could get Siobhan’s boat (which is Hawk’s boat in the picture), and borrow the UNEXSO dolphin handling boat, (which is almost a match for the Navy Marine Mammal Program boat in the movie), we could get some critical shots by positioning ourselves in the inlet looking out to sea through the jetties. We could get boat to boat shots that are supposed to be at sea — but get them in the inlet, then use computer graphics to take out the jetties and add “regular” sea. I put together a Google Earth shot of the area I want to shoot with some arrows explaining things and skype it to Siobhan. Here it is:
Picture 124
The picture shows UNEXSO and its pens on the left — then the open area where I propose to shoot looking out toward the open ocean through the jetties. It’s a big cheat but it could work.

No, Siobhan says. She can’t get her boat over to UNEXSO. She would have to take it out into the open ocean. Can’t be done.

Okay, then. What about doing the same thing near whatever jetties her boat can get to — and get an alternate “Navy Marine Mammal” boat from that area. She tells me where her boat is moored and I look it up on Google earth and make a new map. This area is not as promising for a variety of reasons — the water looks to be darker generally until you get to the jetties and the jetties are closer and narrower than the ones near UNEXSO. (By the way I know these jetties — they are where we shot the conching scene in Eye of the Dolphin). So here is the new diagram:
Picture 129
Along with the diagram I send the following ideas for what we can do there:

Here is an overhead of Siobhan’s inlet area with two areas marked where we might be able to shoot something use-able, particularly if we shoot around high tide which is around 2pm.

Area A is a little wider but the water looks pretty grey/murky even in this shot.

Area B is likely to have better looking water but could have a strong current — except right around high tide when it might be reasonably calm and we could do something.

Mark, area B also has Jetties….

Things I would think we could at least try to shoot here:

POV from Gwen’s boat looking at Hawk’s boat as he stops.
POV from Hawk looking back to Gwen’s boat as she almost comes to a stop.
Possibly a small piece adding one more shot to the end of the chase/apprehension of Hawk,which as we have discussed is one of our biggest problems. If we’re tryingto do this in Location B, we might just have to paint out the jetties and it could look like open ocean.
Perhaps an iimproved shot of Gwen’s boat going out through the jetties.
And if we really want to get ambitious, a POV from Gwen’s boat as it s slowing down say 100ft from Hawk’s boat, in which we catch a glimpse of the dolphin fin in the water beside Hawk’s almost-stopped boat. It could be on the far side of Hawk’s boat from where Gwen is — so just a glimpse of it somewhere around the bow.
And you could just shoot a plate of the dolphin fin person in the water from the right angle and a plate of Hawk boat from the same angle — then we could marry them together in post so it might not take long to shoot.

Siobhan says she’ll try to make it happen.

Siobhan came up with the boats and they’re in the water shooting now in Siobhan’s inlet. Text from Mark: “It’s working. We’re getting stuff.”

The’y’re wrapped. Last text message: “We got tons.”


And we’re supposed to have bad weather tomorrow. Still not a great situation but we salvaged a lot from the day. Not the disaster it started out to be.

24 October — Saturday: Shoot Day 1

October 24, 2009

7:00AM Bahamas/4:00AM Pacific: Mark checks in via text. “Weather is good. Built the camera last night, and the UW housing. Everything working. Houston, we are ‘go’.”. I text back that I’m happy with that and good luck, then they disappear from my view for a few hours.

The plan is as follows:

–9AM on docks ready to go for 9:30am openwater dolphin shoot — back by 11:00 AM,
— 11:30 – end of day: shoot in the pens and around the UNEXSO facility

–7AM — sunrise and ocean shots at beach near hotel
–9AM on docks for 9:30am departure openwater dolphin shoot
–12:30 – end of day: using rented boat, get various scenics and insert shots

–7AM — sunrise and ocean shots again
–10AM — Taino Beach for shots involving two boats, jetskis, and other marine. (This is the biggest production aspect of what we are doing. The film has a rather large action sequence at the end and we got all the material we need with the principal actors, but there are bits and pieces of second unit that would really help. And we were having a hard time finding matching boats in LA — so getting this while in Bahamas is essential.

So Mark is out on the water and it’s 7am Pacific time. College Football Gameday is on in the bg keeping me company while I work on the Taino beach part of the plan and fret.

7:15AM: Great. Siobhan just called. Weather on Monday is going to be bad. Calling for rain and 30 MPH winds. She says we have to move Taino beach up to Sunday if we want to get it. I tell her okay, let’s do that, in the afternoon after we finish at UNEXSO in the morning. I tell her to standby, I’m going to send a checklist of things we have to do so she’ll know everything that’s needed.

8:15: Still haven’t heard from Mark, who should be in by now. Meanwhile have finished the Taino beach checklist and have sent it off to everyone. Here’s what it has:

Permission to Film/Film Commission Support
I forwarded you separately the filming permission which is in the form of an email from the Bahamas Film Commission. Any problems call Donna Mackey at 242.442.1187 (cell). Eureka Glinton at the LA Bahamas Film Commission office can also be reached 24/7 on her cell 213.925.8082.

What We Plan to Shoot
The first priority shots we have planned for Taino Beach all have to do with the jet ski/ boat chase scene and are above water shots. (I am calling them jetskis but they were waverunners in what we shot and we need them to be waverunners this time too–product placement issue.) If time permits there are a few underwater shots. Mark knows the shots so I am not doing a complete shotlist here but I want to give enough of an idea so that everyone will be oriented reasonably well.
0. Plate Shot: The biggest priority is a plate shot master of the whole scene with the camera positioned on a tripod on the platform that overlooks the beach. Mark is the expert on how to do this kind of SFX shot, so the following is for general orientation only — Mark will give exact instructions.
. Background plate of empty water.
. Plate of the jet skis coming up, then stopping and forming a line
. Plate of Gwen’s boat entering, stopping as if blocked by the jetskis, then continuing on after Hawk
. Hawk’s boat.
. So there are four separate elements. Mark might want to combine more than one element in a shot (i.e. he might want to do Gwen’s boat and Hawk’s boat in one shot) but as noted above, we’re not planning to try to orchestrate the whole thing into one “live” master.
0. Hawk POV of jetskis flashing past his boat as they arrive . [[Note to Mark–aside from the one POV we’ve talked about, are there any other jetski shots you want to get either from Hawk’s boat or Gwen’s or from the water generally? I think not, but wanted to mention it in case you have other ideas. We just can’t afford to bog down with the jetskis so it’s probably best to just get the one shot we’ve talked about.]]
0. Some additional shots of the portion of the scene that happens after Gwen goes through the line of jet skis and chases Hawk down, in particular:
. Hawk’s POV looking back at Gwen approaching
. Gwen’s POV of Hawk’s boat as she runs it down.
〇. [[Special note for Mark re Gwen’s POV. Before you left we pretty much decided we don’t need any more shots of Alyssa in the dolphin fin/wetsuit but that was before we knew we actually have those things available to us. Now that we know that we have them, should we consider putting someone (Sarah?) into that gear and try to get, for example some additional Gwen POV’s in which she sees the fin? I fear this could become a black hole in terms of sucking up time; on the other hand if everything is going smoothly and you want to try for such a shot, it might be worth spending some time on it. It’s up to you but thought I’d mention it.]]
0. Various inserts including
0. Hawk’s hand handling the throttle.
0. Gwen’s driver’s hand handling the throttle
0. Various other inserts taken inside the boats.
0. The main portion of what we want to shoot at Taino beach is above water only. There are a few underwater shots which we would get if time/money permits. I have a feeling we’re not going to have time for underwater at Taino beach but if we do somehow have time with the boats to do this, here is a wishlist:
0. UW shot of Gwen’s boat as the driver throws it into reverse to keep from hitting the jetskis. Shot of full hull of the boat, and CU of the propeller.
0. UW shot of Gwen’s boat pulling to a stop near Hawk’s boat.

Elements We Need
0. Hawk’s boat
0. Gwen’s boat
0. As many waverunners with riders as we can afford. Hopefully at least 4. As noted previously, we could possibly be finished with them in as little as 2 hours if we organize the shoot around them. (Mark: This would mean, I think, starting with the shot of the jetskis flashing by Hawk’s boat, then going to the plate shot from the platform — shoot the jetski part of the plate first. Then we could let them go.)
0. Doubles:
〇. Hawk (one of the jetski drivers from last time would be good. I’m sending a picture of the guy I’m talking about.) Mark has Hawk’s wardrobe for this scene.
〇. Gwen (Sarah would be great for this if she’s available). We do not have Gwen’s wardrobe but she was wearing a navy blue T-shirt and fatigue pants. We probably won’t see her pants so any kind of medium dark colored cargo pants would be fine.)
〇. Gwen’s boat driver. We do not have his wardrobe — it was a dark blue T, Blue Ball Cap, and blue shorts. We won’t see anything other than torso and head.
〇. Gwen’s sailor guy in the her boat. We do not have his wardrobe. Just get somebody and dress him in all white — T shirt, pants, and cap (cap many not necessary).
0. Communication
0. I’m assuming the boats have marine radios so we can communicate boat to boat okay. But we will be shooting shots where the camera is on the beach or on the platform and we need to communicate with the boats and jetskis. My thought is that if we had marine walky with the camera, we could communicate with the jetskis by having one of our picture boats serve as a workboat through which we can relay instructions to the jetskis. If it’s possible to have a walky with at least one of the jetskiers that would be better. Anyway, we can also use cellphones if necessary.
0. Food
00. We will have a total number of people there as follows:
00. Doubles and jetski riders, assuming 4 jetskis: 8
00. Crew: 4
00. I guess we need at least some good craft services and depending on how long we use the doubles and/or how you negotiate the deals with them. Will need full meals for the crew of course.

Budgeting Time to Help Make This Affordable
These are just some thoughts/ideas/guidelines.

0. I think it’s a “given” that we need to be able to finish with all of the doubles, jetski riders, etc within an absolute maximum of a half-day (6 hours) and preferably less than that.
0. My thought is that if we get rid of jetskis and drivers first; then finish any shots that involve the doubles in Gwen’s boat, we would then be left with just two things: Gwen’s boat (no doubles) for Gwen POV’s and use as a camera boat, and Hawk’s boat with the Hawk double. The Hawk double is the one person we might need to use more than half a day.

Okay, that’s my download. Good luck! I’m standing by and can be reached via phone at 818.620.1832, skype at sellersmd, or iChat.

Meanwhile, as this goes out I get a text from Mark:

“Well first time out, the housing seal broke and cam would not boot. Rough water sloshing in the boat.”……

Great… heart sinks. Then turns out he, like Eureka yesterday, is messing with me. New text arrives:

“But then got the camera up. Paul did his thing …just looked at the footage and it is great! this dolphin hour was worth the trip. Going for much more!”

Whew. With that over, I tell Mark (still texting to save money) that per Siobhan, the weather will deteriorate badly by Monday and we need to move up the Taino Beach shoot to Sunday PM. He’s okay with it. Tells me they’re going off to do the rest of the day at UNEXSO, shooting the “Navy Pens” bits and other bits and pieces we can use.

Meanwhile, I’m on skype chat with Siobhan who is planning the Taino Beach outing for Sunday afternoon. Here’s a copy of our session:

[10/24/09 11:17:21 AM] Siobhan Antoni: Oh lord.. every jetski I come across it out of service!!!
[10/24/09 11:39:47 AM] Siobhan Antoni: Where is Sarah and Paul now? Dolphins?
[10/24/09 11:42:51 AM] Michael: paul and mark at at unexso pens
[10/24/09 11:42:58 AM] Michael: sara is not with them at the moment.
[10/24/09 11:43:08 AM] Siobhan Antoni: She wont answer her cell
[10/24/09 11:43:17 AM] Siobhan Antoni: maybe i dont have the right number?
[10/24/09 11:43:38 AM] Michael: mark is responding sporadically to texts — i’ve asked him to send me her cell — i only have her uk cell and that’s not working.
[10/24/09 11:43:51 AM] Siobhan Antoni: ok
[10/24/09 11:43:51 AM] Michael: but i dont’ think he or paul have her cell and she’s not with them.
[10/24/09 11:45:04 AM] Michael: mark is saying that they have a dolphin dive in the am and will be back at 11 …. suggesting taino beach start time of 12:30
[10/24/09 11:45:19 AM] Michael: how does that work for you?
[10/24/09 11:45:20 AM] Siobhan Antoni: ok
[10/24/09 11:45:34 AM] Siobhan Antoni: fine for me and my boat but not good for jetski’s at the moment
[10/24/09 11:47:01 AM] Michael: as long as we have that set, i guess it’s not critical for us to be talking to sarah right now. and i think we have to take the dolphin dive if they’re giving it to us……so i guess we need to go for that time slot and try to make it work. the lighting match will be better in the afternoon anyway, since that’s when we shot this stuff before.
[10/24/09 11:47:35 AM] Michael: yeah, i guess if there’s anytime people use their jetskis for their own fun, it would be sunday afternoon……
[10/24/09 11:48:31 AM] Siobhan Antoni: yes except everyone that i know is out of town, jetski’s are out of service
[10/24/09 11:48:45 AM] Siobhan Antoni: Winter is coming , people have started to take theor boats etc out of the water
[10/24/09 11:48:52 AM] Siobhan Antoni: im still trying
[10/24/09 11:49:32 AM] Michael: yikes. hope we can find some. the places that rent jet skis by the hour (i know, expensive) — do they allow you to take them down to taino beach or do you have to keep them up at our lucaya only?
[10/24/09 11:50:13 AM] Siobhan Antoni: only at our lucaya…That is Ricky. I am waiting for his returning call. yes it is very expenise so we will have to see
[10/24/09 11:50:28 AM] Siobhan Antoni: And i will tell you now, because times are hard here, they wont be cutting you a break
[10/24/09 11:50:58 AM] Michael: i’m just wondering if we really get stuck we just limit the jetskis to one hour and rent from up there, have them roar down to taino, shoot the two shots, and turn them loose.
[10/24/09 11:51:15 AM] Siobhan Antoni: tru…last resort
[10/24/09 11:51:22 AM] Michael: yep.
[10/24/09 11:51:37 AM] Siobhan Antoni: sound silly but do you mind if they are all black?
[10/24/09 11:52:22 AM] Siobhan Antoni: you would probably have to mix it up a little
[10/24/09 11:52:25 AM] Michael: okay as a last resort. it would present problems but that would be better than just not shooting anything.
[10/24/09 11:52:49 AM] Siobhan Antoni: right now that sounds to be your best bet and it may even be your cheapest
[10/24/09 11:53:32 AM] Siobhan Antoni: I will let you know when I speak to Ricky
[10/24/09 11:54:05 AM] Michael: okay. all black top to bottom — no other colors on them? or are they black top half and white bottom?
[10/24/09 11:56:03 AM] Siobhan Antoni: no no I meant black drivers sorry
[10/24/09 11:56:10 AM] Michael: ha
[10/24/09 11:56:19 AM] Michael: yeah, that’s okay.
[10/24/09 11:56:40 AM] Michael: not ideal but not a deal breaker.
[10/24/09 11:56:39 AM] Siobhan Antoni: ok, ill try and mix it up maybe if someone is around
[10/24/09 11:57:09 AM] Michael: in the story there were three blacks on jetskis — Daniel, Tamika, and DUvey
[10/24/09 11:57:47 AM] Siobhan Antoni: 1 male 2 females
[10/24/09 11:57:54 AM] Siobhan Antoni: ?
[10/24/09 11:58:06 AM] Michael: yeah … not that it matters all that much, but that was what we had.
[10/24/09 11:58:21 AM] Michael: i can check and see what color skis they were on just so we know–not that we have to match.
[10/24/09 11:58:22 AM] Siobhan Antoni: ok
[10/24/09 11:58:32 AM] Michael: but we might as well know.
[10/24/09 11:58:47 AM] Siobhan Antoni: i dont think we have much of an option. The only ski’s i will be able to geta hold of are yellow and while…no blues
[10/24/09 11:59:13 AM] Michael: well if we have to have one color only, yellow and white would be the best, I think.
[10/24/09 11:59:23 AM] Siobhan Antoni: ok
[10/24/09 11:59:23 AM] Michael: since we had three yellow/white when we shot.
[10/24/09 11:59:45 AM] Michael: if we could get just one dark one, that would help. i know it’s hard so we’ll take what we can get.
[10/24/09 11:59:48 AM] Siobhan Antoni: should i do all yellow and while or should i put the balc one in there to change it up
[10/24/09 11:59:59 AM] Siobhan Antoni: i have a balck one that is confirmed
[10/24/09 12:01:10 PM] Michael posted file Picture 116.png to members of this chat
[10/24/09 12:01:15 PM] Michael posted file Picture 115.png to members of this chat
[10/24/09 12:01:50 PM] Michael: george — yellow white, tamike blue/white, leah black/white
[10/24/09 12:04:27 PM] Michael: mix it up is best — even if the colors don’t match what we had, the general impression of multi-color jetskis will work okay. keep in mind that if we only have 4, what we will be doing is “doubling” the four to make them look like 8 — so if we have 4 of the same color it will mean 8 of the same color and that will probably be a problem.
[10/24/09 12:14:23 PM] Siobhan Antoni: ok well I spoek to a friend he had yellow and red ski’s
[10/24/09 12:14:31 PM] Siobhan Antoni: they are available for tomorrow.
[10/24/09 12:14:39 PM] Siobhan Antoni: Now, he normally charges $140 an hour
[10/24/09 12:14:49 PM] Siobhan Antoni: I told him that wouldnt work
[10/24/09 12:14:58 PM] Siobhan Antoni: and that we would have to come to a happy agreement
[10/24/09 12:15:32 PM] Michael: ?? (fingers and toes crossed)
[10/24/09 12:15:50 PM] Siobhan Antoni: I kow Ricky charges $48 for 1/2 hour!!!
[10/24/09 12:15:58 PM] Siobhan Antoni: so its going to be pricey
[10/24/09 12:16:51 PM] Michael: is there any chance some portion of it could be paid later in the week when I send you the money for your boat? if all else fails?
[10/24/09 12:17:21 PM] Siobhan Antoni: I told you you can pay me later so dont worry about me
[10/24/09 12:17:52 PM] Siobhan Antoni: I know the guy so i want to say yes but i would need to run it past him
[10/24/09 12:18:01 PM] Michael: yes, thanks. THANKS!!! i’m thinking that if the jetskis are over the moon, maybe we could stretch a bit further if we had that option.
[10/24/09 12:18:30 PM] Siobhan Antoni: Michael I will be totally honest with you, they are going to be expensive
[10/24/09 12:19:12 PM] Michael: well….if we have to pay full price per hour then we will have to just really really limit the time we use them.
[10/24/09 12:19:13 PM] Siobhan Antoni: I dont see how I am going to get them for a couple hours or half a day for less than $200
[10/24/09 12:21:07 PM] Siobhan Antoni: no we wont have to pay full price
[10/24/09 12:21:16 PM] Michael: how much will Gwen’s boat cost….? two hours … half a day…?
[10/24/09 12:21:18 PM] Siobhan Antoni: I can gurantee that it just wont be some magically low price
[10/24/09 12:21:29 PM] Michael: i’m not expecting magic.
[10/24/09 12:21:32 PM] Michael: promise
[10/24/09 12:21:33 PM] Siobhan Antoni: no clue i havent gotten to her boat yet
[10/24/09 12:22:44 PM] Siobhan Antoni: Veronica has a boat that looks just like gwens boat
[10/24/09 12:22:54 PM] Siobhan Antoni: you should call her and find out. Sweet talk her!
[10/24/09 12:22:54 PM] Michael: that’s fine with me.
[10/24/09 12:23:07 PM] Michael: are you talking about her personal boat? or a unexso boat?
[10/24/09 12:23:19 PM] Michael: do you have veronica’s cell?
[10/24/09 12:23:31 PM] Michael: i don’t think i have it. i would like to call her anyway to thank her.
[10/24/09 12:23:33 PM] Siobhan Antoni: dolphin experince boat. It is the one they talk the dolphins out in the ocean with
[10/24/09 12:24:26 PM] Siobhan Antoni: The office # is 373-9332
[10/24/09 12:24:37 PM] Siobhan Antoni: dont have her cell
[10/24/09 12:35:04 PM] Michael: i have her cell. 242.441.0614. just texted mark — asking whether this is a good time to call. i definitely want to call and thank her when they’re done today. sometimes things can be pretty tense while we’re shooting in the dolphin area so it may be better to wait.
[10/24/09 12:35:28 PM] Siobhan Antoni: tru
[10/24/09 12:36:56 PM] Siobhan Antoni: Cant get a hold of the owner of gwens boat. You need to try hard for Veronica boat…
[10/24/09 12:37:16 PM] Michael: yes, just texted mark and he texted back — better to wait a bit. all going well but she’ll be more relaxed later.
[10/24/09 12:37:26 PM] Siobhan Antoni: ok
[10/24/09 12:37:29 PM] Michael: oky. i will try hard.
[10/24/09 12:37:36 PM] Siobhan Antoni: really hard!
[10/24/09 12:42:38 PM] Michael: hopefully in a worst case they would just agree to rent it to us for half a day and bill me for it. what would be the “market rate” for a boat like that for half a day?
[10/24/09 12:44:25 PM] Siobhan Antoni: I would want to guess $350
[10/24/09 12:44:51 PM] Michael: that’s what i was thinking …
[10/24/09 12:45:12 PM] Siobhan Antoni: they may question gas
[10/24/09 12:45:34 PM] Siobhan Antoni: I dont think you would burn too much gas out there but I could be wrong
[10/24/09 12:45:49 PM] Siobhan Antoni: max half a tank
[10/24/09 12:46:12 PM] Michael: how big is a tank? and how much does fuel cost? just trying to estimate….
[10/24/09 12:46:34 PM] Siobhan Antoni: Fuel is around $4.60
[10/24/09 12:47:01 PM] Michael: 20 gallon tank? i have no idea.
[10/24/09 12:47:16 PM] Siobhan Antoni: Im totally guessing but probably around 30-40 gallons
[10/24/09 12:47:28 PM] Siobhan Antoni: my size boat has a 91 gallon tank
[10/24/09 12:47:48 PM] Siobhan Antoni: but I have a bigger boat
[10/24/09 12:48:00 PM] Michael: wow. that’s serious.
[10/24/09 12:48:14 PM] Siobhan Antoni: offer them a price that includes fuel. That is the way to get around it
[10/24/09 12:48:24 PM] Michael: you wouldn’t believe how much trouble we had trying to find a boat over here that would match yours.
[10/24/09 12:48:34 PM] Siobhan Antoni: I could imagine!
[10/24/09 12:48:54 PM] Michael: those sea hunts are very popular in the bahamas, though. i thought there would be a lot of them here — but no.
[10/24/09 12:49:01 PM] Siobhan Antoni: haha
[10/24/09 4:09:11 PM] Siobhan Antoni posted file BeneaththeBlue.xls to members of this chat
[10/24/09 4:09:23 PM] Siobhan Antoni: This is te best I can do. Email me and let me know!
[10/24/09 4:26:58 PM] Michael: siobhan that’s great …. thanks so much. we’ll make it work.   i haven’t been able to get through to veronica — getting a busy signal on her cell. i’ll try again i a little while ……

So by this time it’s 4:30 in the Bahamas and we are more or less at the end of the day and Siobhan is going to keep putting stuff together for tomorrow.

Text from Mark: 4:31PM EST: “Okay. Done for now. Light is gone for UW filming.
Text from Michael: 4:32PM EST: “How is the footage?”
Text from Mark: 4:32PM EST: “Water a little dirty…going to look at the footage tonight. Will film more after the dive tomorrow AM.
Text from Michael: 4:33 EST: “Well, anyway, the water in the Navy pens is supposed to be dirty. We’ll see. Go eat and drink. We’ll figure it out tomorrow.”
Text from Mark: 4:34 EST: “Roger that, Houston. Will comply.”

23 October Update–Travel Day

October 23, 2009

6:00 AM: Just got off the phone with Mark. He’s been picked up and is en route to the airport. Should be plenty of time for him to get on his 9am flight. So far so good.

7:15 PM: Problem. Mark is in line at American and the ticket, supposedly paid for the night before, hasn’t gone through Credit card declined. Unbelievable because I know I used the one card I have with enough money on it to pay the ticket. Mad phone calls….Mark waiting in line. Calls to the bank…yes there’s money there. No, no charge from AA has been declined. Calls to AA – yes, charge declined. Call to bank: no, there are enough funds for the ticket. Now it’s 8 o’clock. Finally AA admits it was its mistake–they never put the charge through. But now it’s too late for me to pay. I have to go to LAX to pay and that’s an hour away. Mark comes to rescue, pays from his credit card. Thanks, buddy.

10:15 AM: The film commission emails me a PDF of a document with customs stamps all over it saying our equipment is approved for import and re-export. They tell me that they have also sent hard copies to Customs at the airport in Freeport — that they have it and are expecting Mark, eerything is good. Great. Only problem is I want Mark to have his own copy just in case, but it’s hard to get it to Mark, who is en route but hasn’t landed yet in Miami. So I email it to him, figuring in a worst case he can show it on his laptop to the Customs Officer in the Bahamas. He gets it in Miami — it’s on his laptop. Everything good. He’s due to land at 9:15pm EST, 6:15 PM our time out here. I’m by the phone, on the computer, waiting.

12:15PM: I’m working on the shotlist for all the dolphin shots, putting them in sequence, making diagrams. Mark knows all of the shots about as well as I do, but UNEXSO wants it on paper. I get it done, send it out, along with a proposed shooting schedule and sequence. I’ll probably post it separately on here for fun.

3:15PM: With Mark on the ground in Miami, we hold a production meeting by phone — Mark, Paul Mockler (underwater DP), and Sarah Hamilton (underwater assistant). Paul informs that Veronica at UNEXSO wants us at UNEXSO, camera ready, in wetsuits and dive gear — at 9 am. So we go over everything

5:00PM: Just sent off the following shotlist for the UNEXSO portion of the shoot. Mark generally knows all the shots and will be the on-site second unit director — but as “Mission Control” I need to submit a list, especially so that Veronica and UNEXSO are comfortable that they know what we want what they have to help us get under our deal. Here it is:



Near the end of the movie Rasca is released from the “Navy Pen” on Andros Island and “races to freedom”, following the sound of a re-call pinger which leads her to a reunion with Hawk and Alyssa. Mark will show you the sequence as we have it now – and the holes we have in it. Basically we need:

• A single dolphin swimming fast from A to B
o Different Angles
o Different environments (i.e. shallow green water and deeper dark blue water)

The key thing is – single dolphin swimming fast in a straight line from as many angles and in as many environments as possible. (Note : It would be particularly wonderful getting a shot of a dolphin racing past the rocks at the end of the jetty.)

• It would be great to get shots from above water of a dolphin racing just beneath the surface (not riding a bow wave but swimming fast—with the shot taken from the bow of the boat looking down at the dolphin).

In the early part of the movie we introduce the idea of a “recall pinger” as the way that Hawk and company call the dolphins into the facility for training or presentations. In the original shotlist – we had the following which we would like to get if possible – but this is a second priority:

• Two dolphins (Bogie and Bacall in the story) are in an ocean environment “doing their thing” (whatever is natural) when they hear the pinger and suddenly turn and head for the facility.
• Same as above with a single dolphin (Rasca)
• We are also putting together a title sequence that is essentially shots of dolphins behaving naturally in nature, particularly shots that show any socialization between them. If there are opportunities to grab any shots that might fit into such a sequence – go for them. (Mark will show you the kinds of shots we have already).

We are lacking shots of Rasca as if seen from the diving platform reacting to the situatioin when Alyssa is unconscious. Also various other above water shots of Rasca near either the platform or the boat. The idea is that if we can get the camera in position on the small skiff – Mark will describe the kinds of things we’re looking for and we can hopefully just shoot for 10 minutes or so and get the various reactions. We’re not looking for anything that’s not already part of their normal repertoire of behaviors – but would like them to run through.

We need:
• Shots of Rasca in the “Navy pen” taken from outside the pen looking through the gate as she swims back and forth or in circles.
• Same kind of shots but taken from inside the pen.
• Shot of Rasca racing out through the open gate.

(Veronica if it were possible to get a re-shoot of a dolphin opening the gate, that would be unbelievably helpful – but I’m assuming that’s a training thing and we’re not prepared so I’m only mentioning it – not saying we must do it. The shot we have is a bit overexposed but we can make it work and I know that’s a behavior that they haven’t been asked to do in over a year.)

At some point Mark needs to record as many different dolphin sounds as possible. We need both natural sounds that they make on their own – and whatever sounds they make on command or as part of a behavior. It would also be great if we could record dolphin sounds underwater – Paul, I recall that your mini-DV cam records sound beautifullly underwater. I should have thought of mentioning this sooner – but if it turns out to be possible to record underwater dolphin sounds as well as above water sounds – that would be awesome.

(Note: Mark, have I forgotten any dolphin shots?)

We need any “dolphin POV shots” we can get. These are shots that don’t involve the dolphins – just the locations where the dolphins are. For example
• In the facility, shots as if we are seeing what Rasca sees as she is “imprisoned” in the Navy pen.
• In the facility, shots as if we are seeing what a dolphin sees as it comes out through a gate.
• In the open water – any kind of shot we can cook up that gives a sense of fast forward movement through the water as seen by a dolphin. Mark and Paul may have some ideas for this.

6:30PM: Call from Mark. My first words, thinking all is well: “So are you having a Kalik at the hotel?” Answer: “No, I’m stuck in customs, they don’t know anything about the approval and they won’t look at it on my laptop. They say they’re going to seize the equipment and I can’t getit out until Monday. And they’re closing the airport in 5 minutes.” I’m not kidding–that’s the exact download. So I asked Mark to stay on hold, then — heart in throat, seriously — called the cell number of Eureka Glinton and miraculously got through, even though (as I later learned) she was at some cocktail gathering in the hills where there is no cell signal — but she got the call and took it. So I conferenced her in with the customs official……after 10 minutes of Eureka brilliantly cajoling him,somehow Mark is through. But we stay on the phone with him because by now the airport is closed and there are no taxis for him. Ten more minutes of drama and we have him on a taxi headed for his hotel.

Whew. We got him in, with all the equipment. Call it a day.

UNEXSO To the Rescue — Love You Guys!

October 22, 2009

Two days ago as we have been pushing to get the final cut done for screening at AFM, Mark Linthicum and I came to the conclusion that we really, REALLY need a few more dolphin shots for a couple of the scenes, plus some shots involving boats and jetskis. But there is no money for that left in the budget. (Welcome to indie film-making.) What we have is “good enough” — but to really getit to the level we need a couple of days in the Bahamas. Gotta make it happen. But how?

So on Monday I wrote the following email to Veronica Cucurrullo, the head of Dolphin operations at UNEXSO.

Hi Veronica,
Hope all is well with you. I’m struggling here to finish the movie, which is looking GREAT but has consumed all of the cash resources — you can check out the website at…there’s also a trailer there. It’s really lookign great. Thanks so much for being a good friend to the project and to all of us — you’ve been the best rep UNEXSO could ever hope for. And Linda has been mega-supportive, and we appreciate it.

I have a problem and that is this. We still need a few open water dolphin shots and a few shots back in the “Navy Pen” — all shots are “dolphin only” and nothing complicated — basically A to B’s and some shots of the dolphin swimming in the Navy tank. There’s no cash to send a team out there. I’ve talked to Paul Mockler and he’s willing to shoot it for us pro bono, and I’ve gotten a camera supplier here to lend us a camera and underwater housing free of charge. What we need from UNEXSO is one open water session for some A to B’s and one session in the “Navy Tanks” back at the back of he lagoon. This would cost $5,000 at our usual rates. I don’t have cash but I wanted to propose a barter deal whereby we would provide 500 DVD’s ready for sale, presumably at $19.95 each in the UNEXSO store. That would be a $10,000 retail value — call it $5,000 at wholesale. Do you think there is a chance UNEXSO will approve this and should I address such a proposal to Linda Osborne, since we was our financial contact? Pls let me know know your thoughts. I need to get this done in the next 10 days. If the DVD barter deal won’t work, do you have any other ideas? Even if they would just give me 60-90 days credit that would help as it would give me time to come up with the money. But I prefer the DVD deal. Any other ideas? I really appreciate your thoughts. Gotta move on this today or tomorrow at the latest.


Well I bit my nails and for the next day and a half Mark and I just kept on jamming on the 150 or so special effects shots that we’ve got to finish, plus I was working the composer, and the sound guy, and the color timing…….when I got this back from Veronica:

Hi Michael,

I have spoken to Linda. We’re going to work with you. So, we are going with your barter deal of the 500 DVD exchange. This exchange would include one ocean session doing A to Bs, and one navy pen session; however, navy pen area will have to change. We are currently using pens 11 – 15 (navy pen) as maternity pens. We would go to pens that are similar. They are located on the south wall instead of the W wall where we previously worked. We need to keep the number down on the dock very small. The fewer people in the area the better. Can you give me a shot list so we are ready? ocean – A to B (U/W). Anything else? navy pen?? (U/W and or surface?) Can you give me the crew total at the facility and in the ocean? We also need dates to ensure availability. Look forward to working with you again.

All the best,

Now I realize it may sound lame that on a multi-million dollar picture it may seem lame to be scratching for a few thousand dollars — but it’s not just the $5k for the dolphins—we cost this out four months ago and it looked like the total cost would run to $25-30k by the time we took me over there, producer Susan Johnson, DP Lila Javan, plus a couple of others, plus the cost for the Bahamas crew, the underwater operators, hotels for 5 people, per diems, air fare — you get the picture.

So the trick here was — how can we get this done for a tiny fraction of that. The UNEXSO barter deal was a start. I then got on the phone to Paul Mockler, our underwater DP, who lives on Grand Bahama. Then Siobhan Antoni, our coordinator. Through Siobhan we got to the boat owners, and the jetski owners, …then the Film commission helped with a hotel room, and we found a dirt cheap airfare for the one person we can send over there — our Mr. Everything Paul Linthicum, who is our Post Producer, editor, a Red Camera DIT (Digital Imaging Technology) expert, and has emerged as a superb second unit director. Bottom line, we’re going for it. Mark gets on a flight at 6:00am tomorrow morning. I can’t believe it’s happening.

Meanwhile, dozens of phone calls back and forth all day to the Film Commission trying to get filming permits and customs clearance for our equipment. Can it be done in 24 hours? Because we have to travel Mark tomorrow, and he has to shoot Saturday and Sunday because bad weather is coming in on Monday and anyway we need him back here ASAP so we can finish and screen at AFM. No one is sure if it can be done, but they are going to try. I tell them we’re on pins and needles, pulling everything together but I can’t pull the trigger without approval to get the equipment into (and out of) the country. Eureka Glinton is my contact here in LA and she’s doing everything she can.

Late in the day I get a call from Eureka. I swear to all of you it went like this:

“Hi Eureka, what’s the news?”
“I’m sorry to say: Permit Denied”
Silence. Gulp. More silence.
Finally Eureka starts laughing.
“Come on, Michael, I’m just kidding. It’s approved. Come on, don’t be so nervous.”

Talk about getting punked. She had me completely in jaw-dropping stunned silence. Eureka, if you’re reading this, love ya and I’m going to get even someday. You really got me.

So that was the last nurdle. It’s a go.

Mark and the team over there will be my astronauts, and I’ll be “Mission Control”. I feel like I should get a white vest like Ed O’Neil in Apollo 13. Just don’t want to hear “Houston, we have a problem.”

More tomorrow.

Here we go…..

Last Big Push Underway

October 20, 2009

We’re 10 days out from delivering a screening cut to the American Film Market for our buyer premiere screenings there November 5 and 8. It’s going to take a huge push to get it done in time but I know we can do it. I’m going to re-boot the “live blog” part of this site to chronicle the final push. Hope it doesn’t end up making us sound too helter-skelter, but it is what it is. At this stage of late post production in any indie film — money is very short. In our film, with some of the challenges that have been thrown our way — it’s really, really tight. But we’re getting it done.

The AFM buyer screenings aren’t open to the public; however on November 14th at 7PM we will be having a “Sneak Preview” public screening at the Melbourne Florida Independent Filmmaker’s Festival to which the public is invited — and any of you who read this can come, tickets permitting. So….I’m gong to leave this post at the top of the page for awhile just for orientation, and below you’ll see the “live blogging” of the kick to the finish line in a series of blog posts that I’ll try to do more or less “as they are happening” — as I did during production in the Bahamas. They follow.